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Presidents throughout the civil rights era had different ideas and strategies on how to handle the issue and bring about equality for African Americans. When evaluating the different presidents in the era, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard Nixon, it is often found that the main driving forces among them to act on civil rights were necessity and political gain. Factors such as domestic unrest, political aspirations, and political influence forced these presidents to act on, or delay, civil rights legislation whether they had the desire to or not. Although they may have found civil rights to be a moral issue that deserved attention, they were careful not to agitate either Southern Democrats on one end of the spectrum and liberals from both parties on the other end. For this reason, their stances on civil rights evolved to be somewhat moderate.

Publication Date

Fall 2015


United States History


Senior capstone, Fall 2015.

Advisor: Chris Danielson, Ph.D.

The Civil Rights Presidents: FDR to Nixon